Flu vaccine

Each year influenza (flu) vaccine is developed to protect you against the most common strains of influenza. Influenza disease can be very serious leading to complications such as pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), neurological conditions and other bacterial infections.

Vaccines recommendations

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly infectious viral illness caused by influenza A or B viruses.

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against the flu. Vaccination makes it less likely you will suffer from serious illness or need to be hospitalised.

The National Immunisation Program (NIP) provides free flu vaccinations for those most vulnerable to flu in our community and these groups are:

  • infants and children aged six months to less than five years of age
  • everyone aged 65 years and over
  • pregnant people
  • people with health conditions and medical risk factors
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and over.

Availability of flu vaccines

Different brands of the flu vaccine from different manufacturers are used and they become available at different times. Some flu vaccines are used only in the funded program, some are used only for private programs and others may be used for both funded and private programs.

When adequate stocks are available, the funded flu vaccine is distributed to immunisation providers using the established South Australian vaccine distribution system. Privately purchased flu vaccine supplies are arranged by the providers that use them and may be available at a different time to funded flu vaccines.

Check with your immunisation provider to find out approximately when they will have the vaccine available and when you will be able to book in to have the vaccine.

Vaccines available under the National Immunisation Program

All funded vaccines available for use in Australia for the 2021 flu season are quadrivalent (four strains- two influenza A and two influenza B) and contain the following strains:

  • an A/Victoria/2570/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Darwin/9/2021 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Austria/1359417/2021-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus; and
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus.

These influenza vaccines are available for free through the National Immunisation Program for 2022 depending on eligibility:

  • Vaxigrip Tetra® – for all those from 6 months to 64 years of age
  • Fluarix® Tetra - for all those from 6 months to 64 years of age
  • Afluria® Quad - for those 5 years to 64 years of age
  • Fluad® Quad for those 65 years of age and over.

All funded flu vaccines available in Australia in 2022 are latex free

All children six months to less than nine years of age receiving flu vaccine for the first time should receive two doses at least one month apart to improve their immune response. Otherwise, if a child in this age group has received at least one flu vaccine in a previous flu season they only require one dose each subsequent year.

For further information about the funded influenza vaccines available through the National Immunisation Program for 2022 see the 2022 Annual Influenza Program (PDF 53KB).

How the flu vaccine is given

Flu vaccine is given as an injection into the thigh if under 12 months of age, and into the top of the arm from 12 months of age.

People with egg allergy

People with egg allergy, including a history of anaphylaxis, can be safety vaccinated with influenza vaccines. You do not have to be vaccinated in a hospital setting. If you have an egg allergy please discuss this with your immunisation provider.

Can the influenza vaccine be given at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine?

The current advice from ATAGI is that a flu vaccine can be given at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine.

Possible side effects of the flu vaccine

Like any medications, the flu vaccine can have some minor and short lasting side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • drowsiness, tiredness or irritability
  • muscle aches
  • low grade fever of 37 to 38 degrees Celsius.

Some side effects may appear as ‘flu-like’ symptoms, but all flu vaccines currently available in Australia do not contain live virus and cannot cause the flu.

Rare side effects may include a severe allergic reaction.

If you are concerned or worried, seek further advice from your doctor, immunisation provider, SA Health’s Immunisation Section or healthdirect Australia.

Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to SA Health.

Reducing the side effects of the flu vaccine

Many of the common side effects can often be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids
  • resting
  • taking paracetamol as per the instructions on the packet/bottle
  • not overdressing if you are already hot.

Where to get immunised

To receive the annual flu vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre, Aboriginal health centre or an approved pharmacy. For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.

The flu vaccine is also available for adults aged 65 and over at selected SA Health vaccination clinics, when given together with the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no need to book a separate appointment for your flu vaccine.

Further information

For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.